Beavers File $8M Flood Damage Lawsuit Against Waste Management

Beavers File $8M Flood Damage Lawsuit Against Waste Management
The Waste Management landfill facility in Tontitown, just north of the Beavers' property. (Google Maps)

A Fayetteville couple engaged in a 10-year dispute with Waste Management Corp. filed an $8 million lawsuit against the company in Washington County Circuit Court last month.

Danny and Marilyn Beaver, through their attorneys Marshall Ney and Robert George of Friday Eldredge & Clark of Rogers, sued Waste Management and its two Arkansas entities, Waste Management of Arkansas Inc. and Eco-Vista LLC in Little Rock. The couple said that Waste Management improperly managed its water retention ponds at its landfill in Tontitown, which has resulted in serious flood damage on the Beavers’ adjacent property in the past decade.

George Wheatley, the public affairs director at Waste Management of Arkansas, referred a request for comment to the company’s attorney, Christy Comstock of Wales & Comstock in Fayetteville. Comstock did not return calls asking for comment.

The Beavers’ suit accused Waste Management of trespass, causing a private and public nuisance, negligence and violation of the Arkansas Solid Waste Management Act. The suit said that floods caused by the company’s landfill operations have ruined the farmland and resulted in the couple being unable to sell the property.

The Beavers bought the 12 plus-acre property for $550,000 in 2004 from Michael Green. The couple renovated the 4,269-SF home on the land and built a 2,400-SF office structure for their business, which sells merchandise and class rings to high schools and students. The first flood, according to the suit, occurred in March 2008 and two more floods happened in the next couple of weeks, each damaging the access driveway to the couple’s business and home.

The Beavers believed the flooding came from the Waste Management landfill, which is northwest of the couple’s property. Waste Management officials accepted responsibility, and the company repaired the damage to the Beavers’ land and driveway.

More flooding happened in the next seven years, of varying intensity, before a significant flood in March 2016 severed the phone line going to the couple’s house and business. As after previous floods, the suit said, Waste Management accepted responsibility and repaired the damages.

After the 2016 flood, Waste Management did an extensive renovation and repair of the couple’s land to try to prevent future flooding, but in April 2017 a massive flood ripped apart the property and the work the company had done.

At the Beavers’ request, Waste Management had engineering firm PMI in Springdale write a report on the flooding, and on Nov. 28, 2017, PMI’s report said that Waste Management’s improper management of retention ponds on the southwest corner of the landfill was responsible for the flooding, according to the suit.

In April of this year, Waste Management requested permission from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to expand its landfill operations. The Beavers said in the suit that they have been unable to sell the property and move to Benton County as they had planned because they are “held hostage” by the flooding problems.